Recently, Teresa Damiano and I traveled to San Antonio, Texas to talk to representatives from various airlines about improving air service to RDU and our region. (Did your ears just perk up? Well, be forewarned that I’m not sharing specifics.) The event was called Network 2013, and it brought together airlines and airports from around the world for face-to-face meetings.
Network conferences are one of several types of airline-airport meetings that can be equated to speed dating. Here’s how it works. Airports and airlines are paired together by a third party for a set number of meetings. Generally, the airports ask to speak with certain airlines, but it could happen the other way around. Each meeting lasts exactly 30 minutes.
While you don’t get a long time to meet, you do get valuable face-to-face interaction with airline route planning decision-makers. For us, it’s an opportunity to showcase our region and airport, as well as demonstrate the demand and business case for improved air service.
One of the greatest benefits to these types of conferences is that they provide the opportunity to meet with a variety of airlines without extensive traveling, saving both time and money. At this two-day event, we met with nine airlines, which isn’t bad for two days of work.
At these events, airlines and airports cover a spectrum of issues. So you may talk about tweaking existing flight offerings, whether it be times, equipment size or type, onboard amenities such as Wi-Fi or reliability. Other times, it’s an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the airlines and just check in to see how routes are doing. And others, of course, are about new cities or additional flights.
Besides the formal 30 minute time blocks, the conference allowed plenty of informal connection times with airline executives and other airports. Keep in mind that RDU competes with all the other airports in the United States, and it’s always good to keep up with what the competition is doing.
Rest assured, we’re working to bring you the best air service opportunities for our region that we can. Tell me what improvements you’d like to see in the comments below.